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Quinn Simmons swapped his cleats for skis this winter as he returned to his roots for some off-season training.
The Trek-Segafredo rider still went out on his bike to rack up the pre-season miles, but the Durango native chose to supplement his training with a few hours on the slopes.
Growing up, Simmons’ first sport was ski mountaineering and he regularly competed, but it has taken a backseat since he started racing his bike professionally. A longer stint at home during the off-season this year afforded him a chance to get out into the snow.
“I worked with my coach and he put in the hours I was supposed to exercise in the day more or less. And if it was snowing, I went skiing, if it was sunny, I went on the bike,” Simmons told VeloNews.
“Growing up, I always skied in the winter, and I would ride my bike in the summer. It’s been years now where, as soon as the weather turns bad, I just run away and start training normally again. So, I wanted to have a bit at home, and this is actually the first time in five years that I’ve had a full two months at home. It was nice to enjoy the winter a bit more and get on the skis and play some hockey.”
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Simmons’ Instagram is full of pictures of him out in the mountains, making the most of his time back in the U.S. before heading to Europe for the team’s December training camp in Calpe.
He also hit the ice rink for a game of hockey at the team bonding camp in October and continued playing during his time back at home.
“I’ve always loved skiing, and I played hockey as a kid and then this is the first season I restarted and just to have some other sports to do where you’re still technically training and everything,” he said. “It’s not quite as boring as being on your road bike for five hours, you go out in the mountains for five hours, it’s a different thing.
“I had one day just proper skiing at the resort just for fun, but everything else is the ski mountaineering. I wear my heart rate monitor and upload it all to my training and I do five hours of that and it’s almost identical to a five-hour ride.”
Simmons would have liked to spend a bit more time at home and in the mountains, but he has to start looking to his bike a bit more as the new season quickly looms into sight. He’s hoping that the time at home skiing will have the same physical benefits for him as it did for him mentally.
“It’d be nice that I just spend the whole winter there. Unfortunately, we have to ride our bikes in the good weather so I’ll never really be in the position where I get the full-time back. And then in the summer, obviously I’m based out of Europe when I’m racing,” Simmons said. “When I have the two months, I enjoy it and make the most of it. Typically, I’ll go already to California for November but this year, we made the decision to stay and change the preparation a bit. Hopefully, it works out physically anyways, because mentally it really did.”
Getting away from it all
Simmons is still just 21 but he has been splitting his time between Europe and the U.S. since his mid-teens. The time he’s had to spend in Europe has increased since he turned professional, and he has set up base in Europe in Girona.
As time goes on, he still feels the pull of home, wherever it is in the U.S.
“I’m supposed to say that you get more comfortable winning over here and everything, which is true that you’re a bit more comfortable, but it’s never quite the same,” Simmons told VeloNews. “It will never be home as much as I try. I do have an apartment here and I am able to be comfortable and do the races and do the work that I need to do, but at the end of my career I’m always going to be an American, I’m always going to love it there more than here.
“To me, home is America and so when I say I go home for the summer it doesn’t mean I go back to Durango. I go and do a month in Utah to get ready for the Tour.”
Following a short trip to Europe for his team’s training camp, Simmons headed to Arizona to spend Christmas with his grandparents before going to an altitude camp. During the season, he’ll also spend some time at home in Durango and in Utah.
It is a slightly nomadic existence, but Simmons is enjoying it for now.
“After this camp, I go to Arizona for two weeks and then I go to New Mexico, where I’ve done my altitude camp for two winters now and then I’m back in Europe for the classics,” he said. “After that, I’ll return and do a couple of weeks at home in Durango and then I go to Utah to get ready for the Tour and back to Europe.
“It’s a lot of moving around, but it’s quite enjoyable for now. Eventually, I know I have to settle down and have more of a normal life. I’m still 21 I can run around and be a kid.”
For Simmons, in addition to being at home, one of the draws of heading back to the U.S. for his training camps is the sense of isolation he can find.
“In Europe, you’re always near people. You go on a ride and every 20km you go through a village. I really like when I can go and train for six hours and I see maybe one gas station. I really enjoy being out in the middle of nothing,” he said.
“Where I go for my altitude camp in New Mexico at most there’s one gas station. I’ll go through my stoplight on the way out of town and other than that one guy, I won’t see anyone for six or seven hours. You’ll get passed by five to 10 cars, maybe you don’t have cell service half the time or anything. I bet if I brought some of my teammates over, they wouldn’t like it so much, but for me, I really enjoy it if it feels more of an adventure. I like being four hours from home with no cell service.
“I really enjoy being that far away from the cycling world and just working really hard to come here and be fully ready when it’s time to go.”